Category: Culture & History

A Review of Claudia Rankine’s ‘Citizen, An American Lyric’

Claudia Rankine’s provocative and polyphonic work, Citizen: An American Lyric, has spurred much-needed conversations around race and racism both in academia as well as in more informal discourse. In the wake of the recent protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, this book finds itself all the more relevant and also unnervingly prescient.

Belgium’s Colonial Crimes in the Congo: A Duty to Remember

Thanks to the Black Lives Matter mobilizations against racism in general, and racism against black people in particular, becoming an international phenomenon more and more people are seeking to know the truth about the dark past of the colonial powers and the continuation of neo-colonialism up to the present times.

An “All Hands on Deck” Moment: Sixty-Six Old New Leftists Urge Support for Joe Biden

When I heard that people who had been prominent in SDS had written an open letter about the importance of supporting Joe Biden, I immediately wanted to read it, because long ago that was my organization.

“Capital, It Fails Us Now”: Andy Gill of Gang of Four, 1956-2020

For people of a certain age — Generation X, they used to call us — it’s something of a cliche that if you loved punk rock and had leftist leanings you’d find your way to hearing a Gang of Four . . .

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Are You a Settler?

Settler-colonialism, Capitalism and Marxism on Turtle Island

The politics of solidarity on display during the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline have raised the issue of Indigenous liberation more and more sharply to people on the left.

The Historical Retrieval and Controversy of Walter Rodney’s Russian Revolution

The posthumous publication of Walter Rodney’s book on the historiography of the Russian Revolution is a remarkable accomplishment of historical retrieval, and it provides us with an opportunity to look more deeply into Rodney’s relationship to Marxism, Soviet . . .

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Sudan’s Revolution of 2019

At the Crossroads of Africa and the Arab World

Sudan’s revolution is not only Arab but also African in a way not seen in the 2011 Arab uprisings. The old regime combined Islamism and a racist form of Arabism with military rule, touching off in response a . . .

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A Brief Introduction to the Saga of the Labor Movement for Emerging Militants

This piece is the text of a talk given to the DSA Lower Manhattan Branch’s Political Education Working Group on December 4, 2019, serving as introduction to “Bernie and Labor” part of its series “Why Bernie?”

“Joker” and the Crisis of Capitalism

The idea of the Batman franchise being associated with expressions of popular discontent is something which has already become familiar to us, thanks to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and the responses it generated, including a much-read review of . . .

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Thirty Years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Remember when the Berlin Wall came down? I do.
Glued to TVs in DeKalb, Illinois, my college friends and I watched in envy and amazement as the young Berliners on our screens swarmed all over that unholy edifice attacking it with . . .

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We Should Critique the NBA as a Cultural Product

In an interview with the New Yorker this past June, former National Basketball Association (“NBA”) player Jalen Rose criticized the NBA’s ‘data analytics movement’ for how it incentivizes organizations to “funnel jobs” to people with advanced technical degrees, but without . . .

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The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)

When I was working with the Teamster reform movement forty years ago, truck drivers concerned about union corruption had to proceed warily.
In the late 1970s, too many affiliates of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) were run by grifters or . . .

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Review: Can the Left Learn to Meme?: Adorno, Videogaming, and Stranger Things

One of the biggest complaints leftists make about progressive activism—at least in more candid moments—is a failure to communicate effectively. Since Newt Gingrich and Fox News fundamentally changed the dynamics of political agitation in the 1990s through amping up the . . .

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Prominent Centrists and the Fiction of the White Working Class

In the centre of the city of Manchester, there is a place called Lincoln Square, named for the statue of Abraham Lincoln which stands there. The story of how that statue came to be there is a fascinating part of . . .

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Stonewall and the Early Days

The police were pelted with coins and bottles to begin with, by the crowd, and later bricks and stones from a nearby building site. Barricading themselves inside the Stonewall Inn, police were forced to call for assistance. From there on as crowds swelled in numbers over several successive nights, the whole thing escalated into a full blown riot. It took three days and nights before the Tactical Patrol Force, trained to deal with Vietnam war protests, could finally subdue the rioters.

Picturing the Revolutionary Mexican Working Class

A review of “Picturing the Proletariat: Artists and Labor in Revolutionary Mexico, 1908-1940” by John Lear.

At the Trotsky Conference in Beleaguered Cuba

Trotsky Conference in Cuba Poster
Last week I was in Cuba to attend an academic conference on Trotsky. The night before the conference began I had arrived very late at the government-regulated air B&B where I was staying. First there had . . .

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Capitalism and the Reactionary Power of White Identity Politics

Momentum for building a post-neoliberal U.S. has been gaining strength with each passing day. However, despite the rise of new and exciting figures, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the tide of striking teachers in even GOP dominated states, we must remain aware that whenever there has been potential for revolutionizing government and politics, there has always followed a reactionary and brutal backlash.

On Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma”

On finishing a particularly annoying novel, a good friend of mine once gasped in exasperation: ‘The author’s fingerprints are all over this.’ I can’t say I remember now the book he was talking about, but the phrase has been with . . .

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review

Remembering the English Revolution

In 1649, a pamphlet titled Tyranipocrit Discovered was published in Rotterdam. Fusing the terms “tyrant” and “hypocrite,” the anonymous author called for an end to economic, religious, and political oppression in England.

letter

Russian Revolution

Muraskin and Epstein criticize Harrison’s view of the Russian Revolution; Harrison replies.

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